Guide to SKOPJE

Balkon3 at a flea market in Berlin


Handmade furniture, a curious collection of dolls, old jewelry, antiques, gas masks, clothing items  from East and West Germany, freshly prepared food and loads of things that you wouldn’t even think of finding at a market. Balkon3 found all of this and more at a flea market in Berlin, Germany.

Although winter is slowly coming to an end, cold weather still shrouds Berlin with all its vigor. This is how we find the largest city in Germany, where there is always something to do. If you happen to visit the city on a Sunday, Balkon3 recommends that you visit Mauerpark flea market which opened in 2004.  Perhaps you did not know that the word “Bit Pazar” is a Turkish  compound noun derived from the words “bit” which means “flea” and “pazar” which means market.

In Berlin’s Mauerpark, (park along the wall), you will not find fleas, but you will find everything else you might you need, and hundreds of things whose purpose will remain a mystery. The flea market became one of the most interesting attractions in Berlin that is open during the weekend. On Sundays, thousands of  Berliners, and even more tourists head towards Bernauer Street no.63. You cannot miss the market because as soon as people leave the subway they all move in that direction following  the noise and the smell of sauerkraut.

If Bernauer Street isn’t very lively on Sundays, do not despair because the flea market is literally packed with people. Although the day began with a rainy morning, it wasn’t a good enough reason for Berliners and tourists to stay in. You will recognize the locals immediately because they go there in order to find a piece of antique furniture, second-hand TV, household appliance etc., and you’ll recognize tourists by the fact that they get photographed at each stall, completely forgetting that shopping is the primary reason to be there. The smell of various spices and a mix of colourful stalls welcome the visitors at the entrance. They sell everything and anything, without any particular plan or order. One cannot tell with certainty whether there are more clothes, used items, handmade works of art or any other art before you. There are jewelery makers, some produce woven garments, some cook and some do hand drawn sketches out in the  open. The hats made from coffee bags, with a price range starting from €19, were especially interesting.

The market welcomes both the poor and the rich, and here one does not make any distinctions between people, because they are all mixed together in the crowd, so everyone can choose something according to how deep their pocket is. However, you can haggle. For example, you can buy a coat, as good as new, worn by soldiers from East Germany, for about €15. You may find rare cameras that only cost several tens of euros. Some products may surprise you, such as the collection of Lego blocks, which a German had collected as a child but has now decided to sell.

A collector of beer glasses that came in various shapes, sizes and colors attracted a lot of attention as well.

A young couple bought an old piece of furniture that they mounted in their bike and left, pleased with their shopping. It will be hard to bring back to Skopje some rare furniture from East Berlin, so we decide to take something smaller, like handmade jewelry. More than ten stalls offer diverse jewelry, but one of them stands out, selling jewelry from the 1960s and 1970s so we decided to buy some earrings as a gift and a souvenir from the beautiful flea market in Berlin.

Markets are a great place to learn about the culture of a country, a small place to see art being created before your eyes, try local food, see familiar avant-garde people, see the past and experience the present. At Mauerpark flea market you can feel all of that, the beauty of Berlin – then and now. (A.M.)